Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Celebration Party

New Years this year was a little scaled down due to our entire family being sick over Christmas. Despite an ER visit on the 26th, I thought I just had a bit of a bug and proceeded on through New Years. Had I known I had Pneumonia, I may have resigned to the couch for our new years celebrations! Thank goodness I had saved my decor from last year, so set up was minimal! It's still a super cute way to celebrate the new year!
 We always go out to dinner with the adults then come back after to the kids. With all the extra excitement, I like to put together bags of activities for each hour for the sitter to do with the kids. At least the sitters wont go crazy! They are little games or activities that can be completed in the hour. I've toyed with having over next year and would do activities for the kids and all their cousins. I think its fun to have the anticipation for the next hours activities!
 Each bag this year also had a handful of "watches" made with chocolate coins and watch faces, since my daughter was learning to read a watch it was a fun way of incorporating the learning into each hour bag, not to mention- yummy!
 I purchased my bag printables and new years activities a while back from the dating divas, i absolutely love them! The whole kit is so much fun and comes with everything (except the watches) as well as a game which we played and is also very fun. I love the little kids new years resolution page. My daughter had a blast drawing it up and I thought it was so sweet to read through! It was a good way to introduce new years resolutions to the young kids!
What midnight celebration is complete without the midnight toast? I loved loved loved this drink and was able to find the perfect plastic martini glasses to make it worry proof and easy clean up! It could be made spiked or non like we did. It is basically martinelli's cider with a shot of mango nectar and peach nectar. throw in a few pomegranate seeds and a sprig of rosemary to cut the sweetness! It was wonderful! For the adult version, add peach schnapps's instead of nectar!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

North Pole Elf Breatfast

Some people do a fun breakfast to welcome their elf on the shelf to their home for the Christmas season, we have always decided to do a North Pole Elf Breakfast on Christmas Eve morning to send him back home on a good night, and basically to suck up to him Christmas Eve :)  We've always had lots of fun with it, but this year we added to the fun when my daughter asked me to sew "buddy the elf style" hats for everyone. I have to admit, she was right, it made it much more fun and the hats were actually quite easily sewn! I highly recommend adding hats to all your future elf events!
I always love using these awsome little vintage milk bottles! They are the perfect size and look wonderful in any theme with a colored straw and any beverage!
 Upon arrival, everyone was required to find out what their elf names were from our chart, don their elf hat and start off with a nice mug of hot cocoa! Some of my favorite names were: Bubbles sugar-socks and cookie monkey-buns! Such a fun way to get in the elf spirit!

 Hmmm, had to make sure all the major elf food groups were represented. Sadly, despite four stores, I could not find candy corns in December. Next year I'll have to save some halloween candy!
Candy Cane Pancakes
Happy Christmas Eve from our Elf Family to yours! ( and Clarisse the reindeer)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Christmas Party Treat Table

Every year to kick off the Christmas season we host an Angel Tree party. In our area, the Salvation Army collects names of families that need help providing children with Christmas gifts and clothing. We usually select 2 children to start with and are usually able to add more children, depending on the turn out of our get together. We send out the childrens names and info, and guests are welcome but not obligated to bring a gift if they like, or they can just come to the party and help wrap gifts. This year we were able to sponsor 4 children, which made my heart so happy!
 I love this party because I love seeing the charity of others especially at the holiday season, and I love baking for the party while listening to my Christmas music! I figure, if I'm asking people to give gifts, the least I can do is feed them well! :) It is one of my favorite parties. and this year gave me the extra time to try some new recipes that I will share!
 Pomegranite Macarons (white) and Raspberry White Chocolate Macarons (left) Loved the colors!
 Christmas Pavlova- was so much fun to make, and beautiful to see- not to mention tasty!
 Christmas Fudge- Microwave-super-easy-but-tasty Style
 who doesn't love sugared cranberries
 This was one of the best. I love peanut brittle, but seldom make it due to the time. I wanted to make it but alas, my candy thermometer was broken that day. So I pulled out this awesome microwave recipe I've had for a while but haven't tried and it was amazing! Better even then the slow version! Recipe included below- make it..... love it!
 I always have requests for my snowman and girl sugar cookies
What a  beautiful site, and night! Happy holidays!!
Super Easy 10 Minute Microwave Peanut Brittle

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 pinch salt (optional)
Directions
  1. Grease a baking sheet, and set aside. In a glass bowl, combine peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cook in microwave for 6 to 7 minutes on High (700 W); mixture should be bubbly and peanuts browned. Stir in butter and vanilla; cook 2 to 3 minutes longer.
  2. Quickly stir in baking soda, just until mixture is foamy. Pour immediately onto greased baking sheet. Let cool 15 minutes, or until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.
 Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hello Kitty Cake and Treats real

Hello Kitty is always a sweet theme for a party! Had even more fun doing a Hello Kitty treat table and a cake!
Absolutely loved these cute kitty cookies! The cutter is the perfect size!
and what is more fun than marshmallow kitty pops!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Autumn Calls For Butternut Squash Soup and Recipe

November 1st is always butternut squash soup night at our house. Our busy Halloween Season is over and we usually have all our decorating taken down and can just enjoy a quiet peaceful autumn night. This year our Nov. 1st was acutally on November 2nd, but whose counting :) It was actually a perfect soupy night due to a big storm coming in! I have two recipes I love, one is fast and one that takes a little more "love" haha. This time I was too tired for the extra "love" so we did the quick one so I could just break out the crock pot and then thoroughly clean my house and do a million loads of laundry. That was the plan, I actually ended up veging out on the couch and catching up on my recorded shows from October. (I think the great 3:30 am mass exodus of all d├ęcor Halloween earned an afternoon on the couch!) Anywho- if you have a busy afternoon of "house cleaning" scheduled, break out your slow cooker and here is the recipe for the quick Butternut Squash soup we like:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
  • 1 medium butternut squash, (I just dumped a box of cubed butternut squash from Costco in)
  • 1 sprig fresh sage
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
  • pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • (optional garnishes: extra coconut milk and cayenne)

Directions:

Add vegetable stock, garlic, carrot, apple, butternut squash, sage, onion, salt, pepper, cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg to a slow cooker.  Toss to combine.
Cook for 6-8 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high, or until the squash is completely tender and mashes easily with a fork.  Stir in the coconut milk.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.  (Or you can transfer the soup in two batches into a traditional blender, and puree until smooth, being very careful when working with the hot liquid.)  Taste, and season with additional salt, pepper and cayenne if needed.

If you have time for the extra "love" recipe, here it is. It's one of our favorites, courtesy of
Tyler Florence from the Food Network! The smell while cooking this is DIVINE!!

Butternut Squash Soup with Amaretti Cookies
Courtesy of Tyler Florence
Ingredients
  • 2 (2 pound) butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 pound amaretti cookies (I used lorna dune cooikies instead, but you can also omit them)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 bunch fresh sage
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 4 cups chicken stock, either homemade or store-bought (I only used 1 cup chicken stock and 3 cups vegetable stock so the flavor of the squash didnt get lost in the chicken stock~)
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • (i also added brown sugar to taste and lots more nutmeg and salt)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish with vegetable oil. Place squash cut side up in prepared dish. Pierce each squash half several times with toothpick or skewer. Bake until squash is tender, about 45 minutes.
While the squash is cooking, use a handheld mixer with the chopping attachment to pulse the cookies until roughly chopped. Set aside.
In a large pot, bring the olive oil up to almost smoking. Quickly cook the sage leaves until crisp. Remove and reserve the sage, and saute the sliced onion. When the squash is done cooking, using a large spoon, scrape squash into the pot; discard peel. Add 3 1/2 cups chicken stock and nutmeg and puree until smooth, add additional stock to reach desired consistency. Stir soup over medium heat until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with crushed amaretti; garnish with sage leaves
 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Tricks and Treats and Zombie Cake

One of our favorite times of year has arrived! After 5 days of set up, 8 days of cooking, 82 AA batteries, 20 AAA batteries, 2 electricians visits, 3 parties, and a fun night of trick or treating followed by 4 mad crazy hours of take down our Halloween season has gone off great! Every year for our annual Halloween Party we have about 60-70 of our favorite people over for an evening full of fun Halloween treats, entertainment and costume contests. Here's a fun recap of the goulish goodies and fun costumes from this season! Though most of the treats are fairly simple- they pack a huge punch! I get requests for most of them throughout the year!!
Sugar Cookies, always simple to dress up
Nutter Butter Ghost Cookies
Pretzel and Marshmallow Bones
Cake and Jelly Oozing Brains
Peanut Butter Eyeballs (also called buckeyes) One of the more popular items
Mini Pumpkin Pies (gone in an hour-I may have eaten one or two five)
Pumpkin Buttercream and Chocolate Cupcakes- can you really go wrong with that combination?
Chocolate Covered Oreos
Peppermint Patties
A huge success- and one you can continue making throughout the fall! Recipe at the end of this post!
Also a huge requested item- perfect mix of sweet and salty
Zombie Cake Pops
Our party happened to be the day after my husbands birthday, so his birthday cake got to help out with treats for the party! All edible except the green Zombie Goo
Was so fun to make this!!!
Our entertainers- the crew from Quick Wits Comedy, such a fun show!
1st Place winners for Best Costume Couple- Castaway, Individual- the Octomom
Best Costume Individual 2nd place Tie: Galadriel and Elf on the Shelf
Best Costume Couple 2nd Place Tie: Kim and Kanye & Steampunk
Happy Halloween from us: Cinderella, Gus Gus, Prince Kit and the Fairy Godmother
Cinderella and Gus Gus
I always love our house at Halloween!
 post trick or treating festivities
 Traditional Monster Hot Chocolate and homemade donuts
This year we also made Jello worms for fun!  Hope your Halloween was wonderfully spooky!
 
Pumpkin Spice Carmel Corn Recipe:
 
 The best pumpkin carmel corn!! Check out her site, she's super fun!
Author:  
Makes: 16 cupsIngredients
  • ½ cup unpopped popcorn kernels (about 16 cups popped corn)
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 300°
    2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set this aside.
    3. Pop popcorn kernels using air popper into a large bowl.
    4. In a small saucepan melt butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and 1 tsp salt together over medium heat. Bring to boil. Boil for 4 minutes without stirring.
    5. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.
    6. Pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn and stir to coat evenly.
    7. Pour the popcorn into the lined pan, sprinkle remaining 1 teaspoon salt on top and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
    8. Allow the popcorn to cool on a parchment lined counter
 
Enjoy and eat fast- it won't last long!